At a time when many organizations are pivoting and reimagining their strategies, your organizational culture is more important than ever. Whether you’re aiming to recruit new members, find new customers, or engage employees and volunteers, establishing a culture of communication and openness will make a difference in how your community perceives you.
At Rain POS, we help businesses connect with and provide value for their communities through our all-in-one point of sale, website, and marketing system for main-street retailers. Through that work, we’ve seen firsthand how important it is to build a strong community behind an organization. While researching ways for main street retailers to connect with their local communities, we’ve found three tips that could uplift your association as well:
- Make it easy for individuals to engage with your organization.
- Use a multichannel marketing strategy to reach a greater audience.
- Empower organization employees with tools to simplify administration.
These tips can be applied to any association or business that cares about its community and is dedicated to building long-lasting relationships with its supporters. We’ll dive into each tip in more detail to help you jumpstart your community outreach efforts. Let’s get started.
Make it easy for individuals to engage with your organization.
Many of your community members will engage with your organization online before they ever engage in person. This is why it’s crucial to create adequate opportunities and spaces for your community to reach you.
Here are a few ways to make it as easy as possible for community members to engage with your organization online:
- A website with a calendar sign-up widget and an up-to-date list of offerings. This can include classes and events or inventory for businesses. This enables your community to stay up to date with what you’re doing and what current opportunities there are to engage with you.
- Automated reminders and notifications. For community members who may not check your website frequently, setting up automated reminders and notifications through emails, outbound text messaging, or even an app can help them stay up to date on your offerings.
- Virtual engagement. While we have become accustomed to virtual events during the pandemic, they can still come in handy for your organization for years to come. Virtual engagements, like webinars, events, and classes give your community members more flexibility in how they want to engage with your organization.
Having multiple touchpoints to keep your organization top-of-mind while offering a variety of ways for supporters to get involved will make you more accessible in your community.
In the local business world, this could look like sending an automated reminder that a customer left something in their cart that they haven’t paid for yet. For associations, it might be reminders about upcoming events, with different communications going out to members who have and have not signed up yet.
Use a multichannel marketing strategy to reach a greater audience.
Not all of your community members are the same age, have the same devices, or use technology in the same way. To ensure that you’re reaching as many people as possible, it’s advisable to implement a multichannel marketing strategy.
In practice, this means setting up multiple channels through which your supporters can find out about your events, services, and other offerings. Here are a few ideas for ways to diversify your marketing efforts:
- Google and Facebook reviews. Consider the business-world example of a dive shop that rents and sells gear. Encouraging customers to leave you reviews when they’re happy with your service is a great way to help new customers find you. Apply this same tactic to your association by encouraging members to leave reviews, which can help recruit new members.
- Email automation. Communicating regularly with your community is a must and email can be an ideal way to do this. An example of good use of automated emails is sending out a value-packed email with news, early access to events, and more to your members. This guide to membership programs recommends using membership management software to automate your communications.
- Text messaging. For more immediate communication, and especially for younger community members, outbound text messaging is a convenient way to send out quick updates and even get sign-ups for events. Just make sure your constituents have opted-in before you send them any messages!
Whether you’re a business or an association, it’s important to reach community members where they are. A multichannel marketing strategy is essential for cultivating lasting and authentic relationships with your community.
Empower organization employees with tools to simplify administration.
Software can help your internal team’s organization and efficiency, so they can spend less time doing administrative work and spend more time connecting with community members. As many more organizations and employees shift to hybrid work, software can also help improve remote communication, make collaboration easier, and keep employees engaged on the days that they’re working from home.
Double the Donation’s guide to employee engagement estimates that organizations are 22% more profitable when their employees are engaged. Giving your employees back some of the time they might have spent on administrative tasks to instead allocate to what they’re passionate about will increase productivity as well as their workplace satisfaction.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding what kinds of software you’ll need:
- Industry-specific features. If you run a quilt and fabric storefront, the software you’ll need may differ from other stores. You may host sewing classes that require sign-ups and event management. However, a fishing gear store may not have any need for event management software. The same holds true for associations. Invest in software that most directly addresses your association’s specific business needs.
- Software that updates your website in real-time. Your organization likely sells services, products, or experiences to members. It’s crucial that, if you maintain an online inventory and events page, these elements remain up to date with your most recent offerings. Point-of-sale and event management software that updates your website in real-time ensures that your community members can easily browse what’s available.
- Intuitive association management software and events management software. Keeping track of your member data and integrating that information with your events management software can keep your organization running smoothly. Having high-quality software for both member management and event management helps ensure that your supporters get all of the information they need. It will also help them easily sign up, and make it possible for you to communicate with them before and after your event.
The idea of investing in software can sometimes seem daunting. However, in order to run your team more efficiently, keep employees engaged, and get back to the big tasks that matter to you and your community, selecting the right software is well worth the investment of time, effort, and money.
It’s a common misconception that for-profit businesses and nonprofits, associations, and other organizations have nothing to learn from each other. In reality, many of the same best practices and tips can be applied to any organization— regardless of their for-profit or nonprofit status.
With these tips, your constituents and association members will see and benefit from the effort that your team is putting towards building a rock-solid community and foundation for your future. Good luck!